Quality control

As I got older I realized which traits on my dating wish list were realistic.

dating illustration 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
dating illustration 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Everyone knows I had a checklist of qualities I was looking for in my husband. It was long and detailed and eventually I transferred it to a spreadsheet and gave the items numerical values.

Of course, that’s a tad immature – some have even been appalled at the concept – but it served to remind me what was important so that I wouldn’t get swept up by lust. Too many times you have strong physical attraction or the perfect romantic setting and you forget about the stuff that really matters. The scorecard determined which traits were non-negotiable and which were nice to have but not a necessity.

“Jewish” was the most important, with a value of 100 points, but that was the only one worth that much; basically it was a given, so if any man wasn’t Jewish he would never earn enough points to be worthy. Sure, I dated non-Jews and reduced or even removed the “Jewish” qualification because I wanted to “make it work,” but in hindsight I’m not surprised that it never did. It is simply the most important value to me, and my beshert would have to share my values.

The traits that followed in importance were worth 10 points and decreased down to five points. Anything that wasn’t worth five points didn’t need to be on my list – those would be added bonuses. I made the list at age 16 and as my age changed so did the numbers.

Some moved up, some down and some were eliminated altogether. The Tamar at 18, 21, 25 still wanted most of the original traits but as I got older I realized which ones were realistic, which were optimistic and which were fatalistic. When I turned 30 and was engaged to be married, I went back and consulted the spreadsheet to see where my husband-to-be fit. I’d never thought to run him through the system while we were dating because at that point not only was my list ingrained in my head, but something felt different about him, so I wasn’t shocked that when I calculated his score I saw that he had earned an “A.”

Recently I was asked to help a friend find his beshert. As we spoke, it became apparent that he’s a romantic and that this is a very important, if not the most important, trait he wants in a wife.

When he finds his beshert he wants them both to know – at the same time – that they are beshert. Instantly. I told him about how I met my husband and how I felt that timing was a huge part of it. His response was that he doesn’t believe in timing and doesn’t want a girl who does either. This guy wants to see a burning bush when he meets his beshert and he wants her to see it too. He knows he’s meshuggane about it all – he told me so himself – so he wants a woman to be crazy in love alongside him. I was rolling my eyes, but who am I to judge?

He went on to say that he was flexible about nearly everything else in life: career, personality, location, even religion, but not her sense of romance. I appreciate his knowledge of what his self-set standards are, but it just doesn’t seem realistic. I’m afraid that if they don’t have anything more substantial in common than being in love, the union won’t last.

I’m afraid that being in love is a drug to him and once the high wears off from one woman he’ll get bored and want someone else. I confessed my concerns to him but he was adamant about his desires. He said that, like me, he’s known what he’s wanted since he was 16 and it hasn’t changed. I may not agree with it, but I’ve gotta try to give him what he wants (although I may sneak in some variety as well).

You should know what you want and how important certain items are, but you need to have more than the one non-negotiable. Jewish is a given, so what else is make-or-break? I had about 10 items that were worth 10 points each, but if a guy had at least the majority of those items then I would consider him; he didn’t have to have to be a perfect 10.

Such things don’t exist except in airbrushed magazines. Just know which few items you’re not willing to budge on. I never thought I would date a smoker and I ended up marrying one – but he had (and still has) enough of the other important things that I could ignore an item here or there that I didn’t want. Plus, since we got married, he’s quit smoking.

The point is, what are you willing to compromise on, or completely overlook, in a mate? Surely the things that are physical or material and the things can be altered. Just be honest with yourself and with your mate. I believe people can change, but you can’t marry someone hoping they will become the person you want them to be.